Obtaining European Union citizenship using the case of Zambrano

Earlier this year, the Court of Justice of the European Union handed down a shocking judgement which has the potential of encouraging hundreds of new applications in a bid to obtain European Union (EU) citizenship.

In Zambrano v Office national de l’emploi Case C – 34/09, two Columbian nationals, were given the rights to work and reside in Belgium on the basis that their two children were born in Belgium and acquired the nationality.  The Columbian nationals, who were failed asylum seekers, failed to take steps to acquire Columbian nationality for the children.  Under Belgium law at the time, a provision provided that children born in Belgium, who while minors were otherwise stateless, acquired Belgian nationality.  As such, the children became Belgian nationals and with it, gained EU citizenship.

The judgement confirms that EU citizenship is a status deserving of protection across the European Union, regardless of whether or not free movement rights have been exercised by a person moving from his or her EU Member State of nationality to another Member State, and in particular that EU citizenship may be relied on by a person in their own Member State.

As a result of the break-through judgement, there is potential for parents, of any EU citizen child, who are residing unlawfully in an EU State, to obtain the right to work and live in the country in order to protect the rights of the EU Citizen child.  This case could potentially be relied upon by other family members including partners of EU Citizens.

In terms of the United Kingdom (UK), it would mean that if a child is registered as a British Citizen under the British Nationality Act, using the discretion of the Secretary of State, or otherwise, overstaying parents, may be eligible to remain in the UK on the basis of the child’s rights as an EU Citizen.

This judgement has the potential to create an influx of applications based on it’s principle and to create a ripple effect, throughout the European Union!


We would be interested to hear your thoughts.  Let us know what you think about this recent case-law and leave us your comments

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